MS Defense by Richard Hunter

Event Details
  • Date/Time:
    • Friday December 20, 2019 - Saturday December 21, 2019
      9:00 am - 10:59 am
  • Location: Montgomery Knight Building 317
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Summary Sentence: Optimal Phasing and Performance Mapping for Translunar Satellite Missions Across the Earth-Moon Nodal Cycle

Full Summary: No summary paragraph submitted.

Richard Hunter
Advisor: Prof. Brian Gunter
will defend a master’s thesis entitled,
Optimal Phasing and Performance Mapping for Translunar Satellite Missions
Across the Earth-Moon Nodal Cycle
Friday, December 20 at 9:00 a.m.
Montgomery Knight Building 317
NASA has declared the Moon a strategic focal point of the US space program in the coming decade. This
focus is driven by the potential for lunar exploration to advance space science, technology, and industry.
Per the National Research Council’s planetary science decadal study, an analysis of the lunar surface offers
insight into the impact history of the early solar system and composition of the stellar winds. Lunar orbit
represents a valuable testing ground for deep-space technologies beyond the shield of Earth’s magnetic
field. With the discovery of water ice at the lunar poles, there exists potential to harvest oxygen, hydrogen
and liquid water to support permanent human outposts. Finally, the development of orbital infrastructure
may provide a launch point for the exploration of Mars and the outer solar system. The importance of
these goals is demonstrated by significant investments in the Artemis and Commercial Lunar Payload
Services programs. Unlike Apollo, these programs are built around long term, sustainable science and
exploration. Within this new Lunar era, there is opportunity for small satellites to play a valuable role as
pathfinders. When compared to traditional New Frontiers, Discovery, and Flagship class science missions,
small satellite architectures enable new, innovative instrumentation for high scientific yield and iterative
testing of technologies. To be viable as pathfinders, Lunar missions must depart frequently. This can be
enabled through compatibility with contemporary, low-cost commercial launch vehicles. However, the
Earth-Moon system is highly dynamic. Mission performance is a function of arrival conditions, and relative
positions of the Earth and Moon across the various lunar cycles. Presently, there is no reference to
quantify these dependencies in the context of small satellite mission design. This research bridges that
gap with a global characterization of performance demands for lunar flyby, orbit insertion, and landing
missions with 0-24 kg payloads over an 18.6-year nodal precession. By the simulation and statistical
analysis of over 640,000 trajectories with a high-fidelity propagator, optimal monthly departure times
from 2020 to 2038 have been identified. Through a study of periodic and secular performance trends, this
thesis quantifies the dependencies between mission performance and 1) Departure epoch, 2) Lunar arrival
Keplerian elements, and 3) Payload mass. Finally, it demonstrates the viability of low-cost, high-cadence
missions by mapping observed total mission mass against the lift capacity of commercial launch vehicles.
• Prof. Brian Gunter – School of Aerospace Engineering (advisor)
• Prof. Glenn Lightsey – School of Aerospace Engineering
• Prof. Koki Ho – School of Aerospace Engineering

Additional Information

In Campus Calendar

Graduate Studies

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Faculty/Staff, Public, Graduate students, Undergraduate students
ms defense
  • Created By: Tatianna Richardson
  • Workflow Status: Published
  • Created On: Dec 19, 2019 - 10:16am
  • Last Updated: Dec 19, 2019 - 10:17am